Alright folks, this has gotten to be a bit ridiculous. When MTV released the groundbreaking reality show, The Real World in 1991, we never dreamed that 20 years later, television would be dominated by reality shows. Out of all the reality show series that have come and gone, for some reason, a particular type of show has captured the African-American community’s heart: the Wives shows. You know, Housewives of Atlanta, Football Wives, Basketball Wives and the latest, Love and Hip Hop (I guess they had to be more original with that one.). These shows, which I like to call A Few Wives, Eternal Girlfriends, Baby Mamas, Jump-offs and Other Thirsty Randoms have become guilty pleasures, and addictions, even among African-Americans. Admittedly, I, too, have tuned in to each of these shows, tweeting about the foolishness and having full-blown conversations with friends about the drama and desperation of the various cast members. It’s acceptable though, because it’s only harmless entertainment, right?
After seeing Evelyn Lozada and Royce argue over who could pull the highest-paid penis on Basketball Wives Season 2 Reunion, I made a pact with myself that I would not watch the third season, but eagerly clamored to the television to watch Chrissy Lampkin of Love and Hip-Hop verbally assault Somaya Reece for wanting to work with her boyfriend, Jim Jones, out of unwarranted jealousy and insecurity. I sighed deep sighs over the state of our black women, unlucky in love, but I knew that I would keep watching. It wasn’t until I saw the promo for Mob Wives that I threw up my hands. I’m all wifed-out, y’all.
Mob Wives? Really? First, it’s the sports industry, then music, now the Mafia? Even after watching the trailer and reading cast bios, I don’t know if I can take it seriously. Four women–allegedly wives and children of incarcerated mobsters– are going at each other over loyalty, “snitching” and family destruction. In the real world (no pun intended), that sounds like a disaster, but in reality television, it’s a first-place winner. The obvious thing to do is to shake my finger at VH1’s programming department, and question why they insult our intelligence with these cookie-cutter shows, but like Sean Carter once said, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t lie.”
According to Nielson Scan, the Real Housewives of Atlanta broke its own record bringing in 3.43 million viewers during its “Floridon’t” episode (also known as the Bus tour/Sweetie is a Slave episode). The reunion for Basketball Wives Season 2 brought in 2.3 million viewers and Love and Hip-Hop’s season opener brought in 1.9 million viewers. Oh, yes, VH1 and other networks know where our hearts lie: In drama
Come on, admit it. No matter how many intellectual and “above it all” we try to be, we like drama, atleast in someone else’s life. To see bickering, degradation and outright stupidity unfold onscreen right in our living rooms is exciting. It has to be, otherwise, the ratings wouldn’t be what they are. What is it about these shows that makes women, especially African-American and multicultural women tune in?
(1)Perhaps, it’s getting a glimpse of how “celebrities” live, how easy it is to take exotic vacations on a whim, all while wearing designer clothing and shoes we can’t pronounce, let alone spell.
(2) We see some of ourselves and our friendships, good and bad, in these ladies.
(3) Watching the over-the-top, sometimes staged foolishness among people we don’t know personally provides an escape from our own boring or drama-filled lives. It’s oddly comforting to see someone else in a worse predicament that yourself.
(4) We’re taking what we can get in this television game. Gone are the days when we could see the Claire Huxtables and Whitley Gilberts flaunt their high-powered jobs, education and healthy relationships on primetime television. Though they may embarrass us and make us cringe, we want to see us on television. The bigger question is: What cost are we willing to pay for that?
(5) There are just some things that women on every level can relate to, and that includes, but is not limited to dating a new guy, heartbreak, friendship trials and of course, fashion. All of this is covered twice-over in these shows.
(6) We enjoy the cast members, who are just that: cast members. They make us laugh! They are hilarious, delusional, mean-spirited, clueless, fabulous and a few are even a mess. Who doesn’t love/hate those kind of women?
For now, I’m holding my breath on the authenticity of Mob Wives, though I’ll tune in for the first episode. I’ve always wondered how they lived since my first time watching The Godfather. Will you be watching? Don’t worry, I already know the answer. Next thing you know, we’ll be watching this…(all in good fun. Loosen up!)
*Photo courtesy of Vh1.com